Developer Happiness Is Not a Trend—Your Business Depends on It

May 16, 2022 Rita Manachi

Developer experience (DevX) is the hot topic around these parts—and by these parts, I mean the enterprise technology space. I recently came across multiple data points that recognize the importance of developer experience for business. While organizations recognize software/applications as a corporate asset that drives revenue, investments in improving DevX seem piecemeal and poorly funded. 

VMware’s quarterly Executive Pulse survey, which asked more than 450 enterprise technology executives whether they tie growth metrics to application development, shows 88 percent of respondents saying yes. Moreover, 90 percent of respondents claim an increase in application-based revenue, with 13 percent saying revenue had improved more than 10 percent. Even more interesting is that when asked what would have the greatest potential to increase revenue for their organization, half responded with developer experience.

With these kinds of numbers, you’d assume that companies are approaching developer experience holistically as a broad initiative, but there’s more to the story. Roughly one quarter of the 400 respondents in a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) study say they recognize the business impact of software and its innovation. Additionally, more than 40 percent of respondents indicate they approach software projects as “one-off” and “reactive.”These findings, combined with other surveys I’ve come across, stir up some cognitive dissonance for me. If we recognize that software and applications are critical to generating revenue and building strong partnerships (not to mention realizing efficiencies across multiple business units), then our approach to software development should be strategic, or at the very least, deserve c-level attention. Viewed this way, software development can become a corporate asset that differentiates you in the market.

So what gives? Why this disconnect? I suppose that’s the billion-dollar question for what Tyler Jewell, of Dell Technologies Capital, calls the developer lead landscape, which, according to Jewell, grew 22 percent from 2020 to 2021 to a whopping $49 billion in annualized recurring revenue. Meanwhile, according to Gartner®, application development software grew 8.4 percent in 2020, reaching $13.8 billion. [Source: Gartner, Market Share Analysis: Application Development Software, Worldwide, 2020; July 2021; By Laurie Wurster, Shailendra Upadhyay] It's easy to see why so many enterprise technology vendors (apparently 1,000 of them), including VMware, would love to know.

Earlier this year, VMware commissioned a study by Forrester Research examining the business impact of developer experience. The findings are in, and we’ll be publishing a long-form paper that examines what makes a good developer experience, how to measure its impact on developer happiness and productivity, and how it affects business performance. While we get it all squared away and ready for consumption, I’ll leave you with a few data points and findings from that study that I found especially interesting: 

  • Companies need a strategy to enhance developer experience and productivity. While 94 percent of companies say they do have such a strategy, organizations are still in the early stages of this undertaking: only one in four describe their strategy as mature and delivering value. 

  • Decision makers acknowledge there’s room to improve their performance against developer-related metrics. Some of the highest-impact metrics, such as developer productivity or faster release cycles, have the lowest success ratings.​

  • While leaders say they’re successful at fostering developer happiness, developer job satisfaction is still perceived as below that of the average employee. 

To read more about becoming an agile enterprise, check out the Forrester Report: Agile Enterprise Emphasizes Practice Over Process

Regarding that last point, the VMware Executive Pulse survey explicitly points to the complexity in the application delivery pipeline and the necessary skills as an issue; while the Forrester study includes tooling, code hand-offs, and integration as sources of friction affecting developer experience. This brings me hope, given the number of smart folks at VMware and the other 999 vendors working to solve this problem. 

If you’re passionate about this topic, reach out and tell us what you think, and be sure to watch this space! In the meantime, if you want to read more about the future of application development, check out Gartner Predicts 2022: Modernizing Software Development is Key to Digital Transformation. You can also learn more about what VMware Tanzu is doing to deliver a great developer experience here, as well as read the IDC’s take on our recently available Tanzu Application Platform.

About the Author

Rita Manachi

Rita Manachi is a product marketing manager at VMware Tanzu.

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